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Cleaning begins on house where 30 dogs were kept

June 15, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - A Maryland company that cleans septic tanks had a different task Thursday: the removal of dog feces from a condemned house.

The county hired Gerald Taylor & Co. Inc. of Williamsport to clean up the filth at a townhouse in the Spring Mills subdivision in Falling Waters, W.Va.

Approximately 30 Russian wolfhounds lived there in what has been described as foul conditions until they were removed about a month ago.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes granted a request by the Berkeley County Commission to force the house to be cleaned. The bill will be passed along to the owners, Beverly Joan Lord, who lives in Alabama, and her daughter Terri Lynn Snodgrass, according to Norwood Bentley III, the County Commission's attorney.

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Terri Snodgrass' husband, Frank, faces six counts of animal cruelty and is free on $5,000 bail.

In his motion to "abate public nuisance," Bentley said the house is unsafe and a health hazard: "The filth and contamination of the property is so severe that the dwelling property is unfit for human habitation and occupancy, and the threat of disease, vermin infestation and other microbiological contamination from this animal waste is present."

Animal Control Officer Jason Ahalt alleged in a report that feces was piled as high as three feet in the house, particularly in a fenced-in kitchen kennel where at least nine dogs were kept.

Gerald Taylor & Co. worked at the house about eight hours Thursday, using two giant vacuums to suck out the waste.

William Teach, the county's building code official, said the company on Thursday cleared out as "as much as they could with the equipment they had."

"We got a majority (of feces) off the floors," Teach said. "Instead of a couple of feet, at least they're down to the vinyl, and in some places, where the carpet rotted, and down to the wood."

Bentley said the company will likely return with other tools and a high-powered water spray.

An employee said the company would not comment about the job.

The smell was still terrible Thursday evening, according to a neighbor who didn't want to be identified.

The residents living in the townhouse attached to the Snodgrass house have had to stay at a motel because of the smell, according to Bentley.

Police were called to 132 Morningside Drive, at about 3 a.m. on May 17 after getting a 911 call about a woman screaming. When officers saw that the house was packed with Russian wolfhounds, also known as Borzois, they called animal control officers for help.

Twenty-seven wolfhounds were removed from the house and taken to the county's humane society and animal control center. One puppy died and the rest were taken in by a national Borzoi rescue group.

Two other wolfhounds that had escaped were later caught and passed along to the rescue group.

A 30th wolfhound was found dead on Interstate 81 over the Memorial Day weekend.

Animal Control Officer Ray Strine said a few of the dogs have since died from a virus that affected their nervous systems.

The county on May 23 condemned the house and cited the owners for allegedly violating the building code. They were given 14 days to bring it into compliance.

The Berkeley County Commission voted to take civil action against the owners two days later. Bentley said Lord is aware of the clean-up and has been cooperative about it.

Teach said the condemnation will still be in effect after this week's clean-up.

A call to Lord's home in Fairhope, Ala., Thursday was not returned.

Court papers do not list a permanent address or phone number for Terri Snodgrass.

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